There is a school of thought that says when we changed to an agricultural grain-based diet, our gut was re-colonized with different bacteria and we haven’t had the time, as a species, to adapt to the toxins they produce.
Whether or not that’s true, dietary changes can be helpful for many conditions – arthritis, migraines, diabetes, hypertension, and even psychiatric disorders like bipolar and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be helped by good nutrition. A nutritional intervention has been reported to slow the decline in many of the diseases that plague Western countries.
Dr. Weston Price was a dentist in the 1930s. He was curious about why some children presented with bad dental problems. He assembled a multidisciplinary team of physicians, dentists, ethnographers, soil scientists, nutritionists, and other medical specialties that studied 14 different ethnic groups around the world.
This team conducted exams which included medical histories, mental assessments, dietary histories, as well as many photographs. The results of his research found that those who ate a primitive diet had healthy teeth and were in good physical condition (no arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease).
Those who were the first generation to eat a Western diet had crooked teeth and around a 50 percent cavity rate. Also, mental and physical fitness declined. The second generation eating a Western diet resembled the children in Dr. Weston’s practice, and there were higher incidents of mental health issues as well as higher rates of arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
Dr. Price concluded that in the absence of good nutrition, deterioration of the species is rapid. He predicted higher rates of disease in the populations he studied as their diets became westernized and, of course, that came to pass.
Today we know that genes turn on and off in response to the local environment (epigenetics). If you eat a diet high in sugar/carbohydrates, genes that cause inflammation will respond. Diseases with an inflammatory component include Parkinson’s, arthritis, depression, heart disease, dementia, hypertension, and diabetes to name a few.
Conversely, a diet high in green leafy vegetables, whole fruits, and protein will activate genes that lower inflammation. You could make the argument that the DNA is not the problem, it’s the environment. Just because you have the gene for a disease doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Your environment – your diet and the toxins you’re exposed to — will determine that.
Your health problems don’t have to be debilitating for you to get relief via a nutritional intervention. Common health issues like chronic indigestion, acne, or dry skin could all be resolved with diet. In fact, you need to change your diet before your issues become debilitating.
Every second that you’re alive, your brain has to make trillions of chemical reactions simultaneously. If it does not have the correct building blocks – minerals, amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids, and carbohydrates — it has to make substitutions. Sometimes it cannot get the job done. Ever hear of brain fog or a senior moment? That’s your brain on a Western diet.
Most Americans do not eat the recommended daily allowance of anything, and that’s not even what’s necessary for optimal health. Deficiency in nutrients is associated with autoimmune diseases, obesity, brain fog, and mental health problems.
When the brain has sufficient nutrients, the appetite center is ‘off’, and we are not hungry. Without sufficient nutrients, the appetite center is ‘on’ and the brain tells us to keep eating. It needs nutrition but we’re not eating the right food so the cycle continues, and the result is obesity.
Our diet produces excessive free radicals which cause inflammation. The brain wants to quench inflammation with antioxidants so we crave sweets. 50,000 years ago during the Paleolithic age that sweet would have been antioxidant-rich berries. Today it’s something containing white flour and sugar.
Add to that the fact that the food industry has manipulated the salt, sugar, and fat content of foods to increase dopamine – the feel good chemical released by the brain. Now you’re addicted to food that is destroying your health. Worse yet, we’ve exported this food all over the world.
Over the course of human development, the bacteria in our guts developed with us. Those bacteria helped us digest the food we ate. Our bodies learned to neutralize toxins by making use of the by-products of this process. A few thousand years ago we changed our diet. We quit eating green leaves and whole fruit. We began eating more sugar and grain.
A different set of bacteria started growing in our gut.
We didn’t have a cooperative relationship with these new bacteria that went back thousands of years. These new bacteria create different toxins, different nutrients, and are sometimes toxic to us. They kick start autoimmune system diseases like arthritis and lupus. They cause chronic digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Probiotic supplements are popular today because people have figured out that these ‘good’ bacteria can put an end to their digestive problems, but if you ate the diet your ancestors ate you wouldn’t need supplements to digest your food properly. When people eat from the Paleo Recipe Book they often report losing weight without dieting, improved sleep, and more energy.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably already making changes to your lifestyle for better health and wellness. You know like I do that nothing will reap more health benefits than a change in diet. There’s no need to flounder around looking for the right recipes or list of ingredients. The work has been done for you. You just have to buy the book.